Water is critical for keeping our bodies functioning properly. It keeps us hydrated and directly supports all of our organs. Most people need at least 4 to 6 glasses of water a day to avoid dehydration, but every body is different and may require more, depending on health conditions and activity levels.
While water is essential, it's not all the same. Different types of water — including tap, spring, mineral, alkaline, and distilled — vary in price, nutritional benefits, and caloric intake. So which is the healthiest water to drink?
What are the health benefits of drinking water?
Drinking water comes with many health benefits. It helps with:
- Maintaining a regular heartbeat
- Regulation of blood pressure and body temperature
- Proper food digestion
- Oxygen and nutrient transport
- Supporting the health of your organ systems
- Rejecting bacteria from the body
- Lubricating the joints
What are the different types of water?
Tap, spring, mineral, alkaline, and distilled water all offer slightly different health benefits.
Tap water is a type of purified water that's been confirmed as safe by the World Health Organization. Tap water goes through various purification methods before it makes it to your faucet. Purifying agents include Ozone and chlorine, which are used for killing bacteria, viruses, and other potential pathogens and contaminants in the water.
Even though the purification process makes water drinkable, it doesn't make the water nutrient-rich. The purification compounds used in the water kill not only the bad stuff, but the good natural nutrients, too.
It's important to know the source of your tap water. If pathogens are not cleared from the water, you could experience stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. If you have long-term exposure to drinking water contaminated by chemicals, you could be at risk for more chronic conditions such as cancer.
Spring water comes from an underground source. It's natural, organic, and should be free from any treatment.
In its purest form, spring water is naturally alkaline, meaning it has a pH greater than 7. It has essential minerals like potassium, calcium, and sodium. However, there's a chance it may contain trace amounts of the cancer-causing agent arsenic.
Mineral water comes from protected underground mineral springs. It's different for other types of water because of its mineral ratios. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it must contain at least 250 parts per million of mineral solvents and no additional minerals can be added.
As its name suggests, mineral water is abundant in minerals, including magnesium, sulfate, bicarbonate, and calcium. It supplies the body with the electrolytes necessary for hydration, and, depending on the water, can be a good source of calcium.
Alkaline water may be one of the healthiest waters to consume. The pH level of regular drinking water is a neutral 7. Alkaline water has a pH level of 8 to 9.5.
It contains properties that may even protect your body from free radicals, which are often linked to inflammation and many chronic diseases.
Some scientists believe that alkaline water aids in distributing oxygen and blood more effectively through the body, and it may help with those who have high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or high blood pressure.
However, if you consume too much alkaline water, it could lead to low pH levels in the body, which may weaken your bones and immune system.
Distilled water is a form of purified water that's boiled. The steam is then contained and compressed back to a liquid. It undergoes purification processes that remove contaminants like sodium and sulfur.
Drinking distilled water is a good option if you're in an area where the processing of your tap water is unknown. Distilled water is heavily used in medical facilities and for the manufacturing of cosmetics and automobile parts.
Though distilled water is safe, the purification also removes vitamins and minerals. This causes it to lose its long-term hydrating ability. It also loses its taste since the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are gone.
Which type of water is the healthiest?
Mineral water and alkaline water may be some of the healthiest types of water because they provide your body with essential nutrients, but simply drinking safe, uncontaminated water should be your number one priority.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Alkaline Water and Longevity: A Murine Study."
Harvard Health Publishing: "How much water should you drink?"
Journal of General Internal Medicine: "Comparison of the Mineral Content of Tap Water and Bottled Waters."
Reuters Health: "Mineral water can be calorie-free calcium source."
United States Environmental Protection Agency, "Drinking Water."
U.S. Food & Drug Administration, "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21."
World Health Organization (WHO): "Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality," "HEALTH RISKS FROM DRINKING DEMINERALISED WATER."
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